Meralco head coach Norman Black expressed his gratitude to the rest of his coaching staff for holding the fort when he took an indefinite leave to attend to his then-ailing mother in the US.

Meralco coach Norman Black (PBA Images)

The veteran tactician had no other choice but to leave the fate of his team to the hands of his deputies when he had to fly back home last June 30. The Bolts were then in the middle of a two-game slide for a 2-3 record in the standings.

Assistant coach Luigi Trillo took his spot as an interim head coach and guided Meralco to a 7-4 record at the end of the eliminations. He also helped the Bolts get their breakthrough win against bitter rival Ginebra in the playoffs with 2-1 series win in the quarterfinals.

“I thank Luigi Trillo and the other coaches for holding the fort when I was gone,” said Black who just arrived a day before the Game 2 of their semifinals series against San Miguel Beer.

In all, Trillo ended his run as Bolts stand-in coach with 6-3 record.

Black also lauded his team for sticking together amid the adversity and even managing to give themselves a chance to still contend for the title despite his absence. He also added the he watched the game 3 a.m. and 5 a,m. in the morning due to the time difference.

“I actually witnessed my mother pass so that was a pretty disappointing experience for me but at the same time the team they stuck together the players played together,” he added.

“Coaches worked together to try and come up with a game plan to put us in this situation when we had the chance to move forward so I’m very thankful to the entire team,” said the veteran mentor.

Black however returned to the sideline with Meralco trailing in the series against the formidable SMB team. Good thing, the Bolts came up huge in Game 2 with Toto Jose emerging as unlikely hero who provided the spark for Meralco in the fourth quarter breakaway.

Black also thanked the Meralco management for allowing him to go and take care of his mother, Bessie, who passed away in July.

“I’m very thankful to the entire team and the management because they allowed me to go home for probably a month.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (